Something else Sousse, Tunisia is known for besides the beautiful sea...
The Sousse medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of my favorite shopping experiences in North Africa.
The fortified, sand castle like walls extend all around alleyways of shops and kiosks. Locally made goods, jewelry, handicrafts and clothing are for sale and range from inexpensive tourist souvenirs to high quality, handmade gifts for more discerning travelers.
After spending a great deal of time in medinas all around Morocco, the Sousse medina in Tunisia is a refreshingly laid back and varied shopping experience.
Regardless of the price, bargaining is standard however I found it to be casual and relaxed. The base asking price for a locally made and hand painted tagine, for example, was almost lower that I was able to negotiate down to during my time in other North African countries. I was pleasantly surprised with the pricing and found the Sousse medina to be a great value on top of a fun shopping experience.
If handy crafts and clothing aren’t your thing, it’s still worth a trip to the medina simply for the food. Vendors are set up all long the alley ways and it is permissible to ask for small samples as you explore. A self guided tasting tour around the medina is a unique way to get familiar with local cuisine and to begin the base of your culinary exploration of Tunisia.
I especially enjoyed sampling a variety of pickled vegetables and locally grown Tunisian olives. Spices and smoked meats scent the medina air and the colorful contrasts in the food market are any photographer’s dream.
As you sample and shop, you can’t help but take in the history and culture the medina has to offer as well. Far from being simply a place of commerce, the medina is one of the most important staples in local Tunisian life, both past and present.
As a protected UNESCO World Heritage site the medina is a preserved peek into what ancient Islamic cities looked like in 800AD. History buffs with revel in the ribat and mosque while those more interested in present Tunisian culture will enjoy people watching at one of the many cafes.
One of my most memorable moments while in Tunisia was sitting at a street cafe, sipping mint tea and watching local life pass by.
The Sousse medina is easily accessible and a quick taxi ride away from Mövenpick Resort & Marine Spa. To get the most out of your experience however, I would recommend hiring a guide through the resort. Sami Mathlouthi, arranged through the Mövenpick concierge, took me all around the medina, getting me off the tourist track to more locally known spots. He was full of interesting facts and historical explanations and helped me gage pricing and negotiate while shopping as well.
Whether you are interested in history, culture, shopping, food or photography, hiring a private guide will help you get the most of out your travel goals.
Another way to immerse yourself into Tunisian culture and history is to arrange a tour to the Berber village of Takrouna. Takrouna is an outstandingly beautiful, very well preserved look into traditional Berber life. Perched on top of a hill, the village provides a panoramic view of Hergla, Sousse, jbel Zaghouan and the Gulf of Hammamet.
The museum provides better understanding of the area and it’s history however all information is provided in French or Arabic. An English speaking guide is recommended if you would like to get the most out of your experience.
A small cafe and art gallery is located the the top of the hill (next to the museum) and is home to beautifully crafted, handmade jewelry and artwork by local artist, Aida Bellagha.
You can request to be escorted to the rooftop viewing area for an unparalleled view and spectacular photo op or simply take in the featured artwork while enjoying a cup of mint tea.
All of this can be arranged through the front desk concierge at Mövenpick Resort & Marine Spa.
The Sousse Archaelogical Museum and nearby Christian catacombs are walking distance to the medina and are fun for the whole family. Mosaics dating back to the Roman era feature mythical creatures and wild animals delighting young children and the tunneled catacombs can peak the interest of teenagers and preteens.
Although a local guide is not necessary to enter either site, his or her knowledge of the relics and insight can make you and your family’s experience even more interesting and is easily added onto a day of exploration around the medina.
Sousse, Tunisia offers a variety of interesting cultural options to explore at all times of the year. From catacombs to cuisine culture, Berber villages to bargaining in the medina there is something for everyone here.
The best way to plan an itinerary that suits you and your family is to meet with the helpful Mövenpick concierge at the beginning of your trip. From there you can tailor days full of cultural exploration based on your specific interests so you can get the most out of this lively and dynamic city.
Travel tip shared for Traveldudes by LindsayMC